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At Leightons we know how hearing loss can affect quality of life and we’re determined to help remove the stigma associated with it. A small but perfectly-formed video production company based in Cornwall, Sideways has lots of parallels with Leightons. On a bitterly cold December day, a team of our Audiologists took to the busy streets of London to shoot the short film.
To give the video a new dimension and to make it sound as realistic as possible, we recorded using a binaural microphone, using a recording method that utilises two microphones positioned inside the ears of an artificial human head. At the end of a busy day of filming, our audiologists then manipulated the sound in a recording studio to accurately simulate the varying degrees of hearing loss. The most common scenarios that people with hearing loss find difficult are noisy or group environments. Many people wrongly believe that hearing loss needs to be quite pronounced before it can adversely affect an individual’s ability to hear in these situations. People often think that having a hearing loss just makes the world slightly quieter, not understanding that the range of sounds that individual hears can be completely different. We’re delighted with the video, which will work best if experienced through headphones. If you feel that you or a loved one may benefit from a hearing assessment, why not book a free hearing test at one of our branches? Many people don't have a hearing test for the first time until they're well into adulthood. A complete hearing evaluation may be a crucial step to improving your overall health and quality of life. CAPTCHAThis question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. IntroductionToday's hearing instruments are available at various levels of sophistication. Evidence Researcher, Widex DenmarkAnders Holm Jessen is an Evidence Researcher with the Widex EVIDENCE team. The article discusses why it is so difficult for hearing care professionals to rely on datasheets when advising patients on battery life, and shows how everyday use and especially audio streaming increase battery drain in high-end products from leading manufacturers.
Learn about an easy step-by-step process that will allow you to successfully manage patients with tinnitus.
This course reviews a comprehensive process in working with patients who report severe cases of tinnitus. This course will focus on all the elements required in offering tinnitus management in your facility. Hearing loss, or deafness, is the partial or total inability to hear sound in one or both ears. In recent years, substantial advances have made it possible to determine the cause of hearing impairment in nearly all cases, and to treat the hearing loss in many ears.
Mild hearing loss (26-40 dB): Mild hearing loss may cause inattention, difficulty suppressing background noise, and increased listening efforts. Moderate hearing loss (41-55 dB): Moderate hearing loss may affect language development, syntax and articulation, interaction with peers, and self-esteem. Moderate-severe hearing loss (56-70 dB): Moderate-severe hearing loss may cause difficulty with speech and decreased speech intelligibility. Profound hearing loss (>90 dB): With profound hearing loss (deafness), speech and language deteriorate. Conductive hearing loss has normal bone-conduction thresholds, but air-conduction thresholds are poorer than normal by at least 10 dB.
Conductive hearing loss is secondary to an outer ear or middle ear abnormality, which can include abnormalities of the tympanic membrane. Sensorineural hearing loss has bone- and air-conduction thresholds within 10 dB of each other, and thresholds are higher than 25 dB HL. Hearing loss from loud noise limits your ability to hear high frequencies, understand speech, and reduces your ability to communicate, which can lead to social isolation. Damage to your hearing can be prevented, but once permanent noise-induced hearing loss occurs, it cannot be cured or reversed. It is generally recommended in Australia to have workplace noise levels kept below 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted average. This range of hearing protections is available from Hip Pocket Work Wear (opposite Bunnings) Ioanthe Street South Grafton. So, we decided to show the public what the world might sound like for people with hearing loss to help change people’s understanding of the issue.
Like us, they’re an independent company with a high focus on quality, service and innovation – but most importantly they also believe in the power of people, placing the customer at the centre to everything that they do. The concept was to simulate how varying degrees of hearing loss (mild, moderate and severe losses) could impact upon different sonic environments. Hearing conversations on busy streets, in shops and on public transport can be challenging at the best times, even for those with no hearing loss.
In addition to the important information lost in everyday speech, often the common environmental noises such as birdsong, footsteps, or important signals and alerts have gradually subsided from an individual’s audible range over many years. If you know anyone who you think might benefit from watching it then please feel free to share it far and wide. The Better Institute's infographic illustrates how much our hearing health is linked to our overall health and well-being.
As a hearing care professional, you are faced daily with the challenge of selecting those hearing aids that are the best match for the individual patient’s needs in terms of affordability, technologic sophistication, special features, quality, benefit, and satisfaction. After obtaining his degree in Electronical Engineering with focus on signal processing and acoustics, he joined the Widex Audiological Research Department in 1999. He has a Master’s degree in Electronical Engineering and joined Widex in 1991 as a development engineer.
The tools and counseling techniques will comfortably guide you through a process of meeting the needs of these patients and recommendations for appropriate referral considerations. This course will introduce you to how the Dream accomplishes these goals and how this will benefit your patients ability to understand speech in difficult listening environments.


It is one of the smallest and most complex organs in the body, capable of turning the tiniest disturbances in air molecules into a form the brain can understand - and doing so instantaneously, over an enormous range of pitch and loudness.
The abnormality reduces the effective intensity of the air-conducted signal reaching the cochlea, but it does not affect the bone-conducted signal that does not pass through the outer or middle ear. Pure-tone air-conduction thresholds are poorer than bone-conduction thresholds by more than 10 dB (see image). Because, in this type of hearing loss, the outer ear and middle ear do not reduce the signal intensity of the air-conducted signal, both air- and bone-conducted signals are effective in stimulating the cochlea. Pure-tone air-conduction thresholds are poorer than bone-conduction thresholds by more than 10 dB, and bone-conduction thresholds are less than 25 dB (see image). Hearing loss can affect your quality of life by interfering with your ability to enjoy socializing with friends, playing with your children or grandchildren, or participating in other activities.
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually, so you may not realise it is happening until it is too late. For every 3 dB (decibels) above this level (meaning the noise has increased) it halves the exposure time, i.e. These are ordinary, everyday environments where those who have entirely normal hearing may take for granted their ability to hear well. This creates a three-dimensional, stereo interpretation of sound that, when listened to via headphones, is very similar to how we hear the world in everyday life.
As the video highlights, even the mildest of hearing losses can blur important speech cues that people need to accurately discriminate speech. Hearing aids can be a major expenditure, so the potential benefits of advanced instruments have to be weighed against the higher costs in each individual case.Most hearing care professionals would agree that the primary motivation for acquiring hearing aids is to obtain improved speech intelligibility for the vast majority of the users. His field of expertise covers fitting rationales and in-depth technical knowledge about hearing aid features and functions. He worked some years as a project manager before rejoining the R&D department in 2011 as Team Leader. Construction sites have many noisy operations and can be a significant source of noise exposure. The key is to identify equipment that is producing excess noise in the work area and implement controls to keep personal full shift noise levels below 85 dBA. Important consonants can blur or mesh into the background noise making it extremely difficult to understand each individual word within a conversation. His field of competence covers analog and digital signal processing, acoustics and transducers.
Loud noise can also reduce work productivity and contribute to workplace accidents by making it difficult to hear warning signals.
Moreover, the MarkeTrak V study (Kochkin, 2000), which comprised a large-scale investigation of the reasons why some hearing aids end up in the drawer, indicated that the sound quality of the hearing aid can be decisive for whether a hearing aid is accepted or rejected by a patient. In this study, poor sound quality was the eighth most common reason given by hearing aid candidates for not using their hearing aids.
Thus, with potential benefits of higher user satisfaction, fewer returns, sometimes less need for fine-tuning and consequently fewer visits to the clinic, selecting hearing aids with a high sound quality seems a logical thing to do. The Widex Sound is the sum of a number of choices made during the development process and the signal processing chain in the hearing aid to obtain the sound quality we believe to be optimal for the wearer. The following sections elaborate on the key variables we know to be important for a good hearing aid sound quality and discuss the design parameters we have chosen to implement in order to provide the best possible sound quality for the wearers.Short Delay between the Hearing Aid and Natural SoundKeeping the delay between direct and processed sound short is an important design requirement when aiming for a good sound quality. Hearing aid users with good hearing in some part of the frequency range will often hear both the sound which has been amplified through the hearing aid and the sound that enters the ear canal directly through the earmold or eartip. Perceptible artifacts will begin to occur when there is a delay greater than 10 ms between direct and processed sound. Similarly, a delay between visual and audible input which exceeds 150 ms means that the synchronization between them will be lost (e.g. If the high frequencies arrive in the hearing aid user’s ear before the low frequencies, artifacts in the form of short, high-pitched chirp sounds may be heard as a result. The general aim is to keep it as low as possible, and at least below 10 ms.High Dynamic Range for a Faithful Reproduction of all Sound LevelsFor many years, the focus of the hearing aid industry has been on improving speech perception in different environments, while other inputs, such as music, have been a secondary consideration. Sound levels in excess of 110 dB SPL will normally be perceived as somewhat distorted by a person with normal hearing (Killion, 2009).
This suggests that in order to offer a natural sound reproduction, the upper limit of the hearing aid’s dynamic range should reach at least up to 110 to 115 dB SPL. This is also supported by Chasin (2003) who measured input limiting levels in relation to optimal reproduction of music. Historically, a frequency bandwidth of 5 kHz was considered more than sufficient, since early studies on telephone conversations indicated that an upper limit of approximately 3 kHz was sufficient for normal-hearing listeners to be able to understand speech (Boothroyd & Medwetsky, 1992).
However, as pointed out by Boothroyd and Medwetsky (1992), there is an inherent danger in extrapolating results from normal-hearing listeners to listeners with sensorineural hearing loss, who are highly sensitive to less-than-ideal listening conditions with (e.g. Even normal-hearing listeners have trouble perceiving low-redundancy stimuli with a bandwidth of 3 kHz.Moreover, later studies on the frequency content of speech have shown that a relatively large proportion of useful speech cues are found above 3 kHz. For example, a study comparing a frequency range of 5 kHz with a frequency range of 16 kHz when listening to music revealed that the majority of the 12 hearing-impaired judges were able to hear the difference and preferred the wider bandwidth (Killion, 2009).
Interestingly, there was also a marked degradation for the naturalness of speech as the upper frequency limit decreased from approximately 10.8 kHz.
Moore and Tan (2003) also found evidence to suggest that the lower the cutoff frequency in the lower frequencies, the higher the perceived naturalness of music and speech.It should be noted that the wide bandwidth ranging from approximately 100 Hz up to 10 kHz in state-of-the-art, high-end hearing aids like the Widex DREAM, will mainly be useful to hearing aid users with reasonably good residual hearing at the upper and lower ends of the frequency range.
For those hearing aid users, frequency shifting may be a good alternative.No Unintentional Introduction of ArtifactsIn order to achieve a high sound quality, the hearing aid must reproduce sound signals with a minimum of distortion and noise.
Distortion is defined as alteration of the original signal that will make sounds harsh or sharp and reduce the intelligibility of speech signals. It is an unwanted introduction of sound that may result in the masking of other wanted sounds. A hearing aid compression system may have fast or slow regulation (or attack and release times) depending on the manufacturer’s choice.
One advantage of fast regulation is that it enables the compressor to respond to very brief changes in the environment. In situations where speech and background noise compete, gain is regulated with sufficient speed to raise the soft portions of the speech signal above the hearing threshold when they fall in the dips of the background noise.


Thus, fast regulation may result in both increased speech intelligibility and annoyance.Of course, one could argue that the regulation speed which provides the highest speech intelligibility should always be implemented, since the primary motivation for wearing hearing aids is to improve speech intelligibility in most cases.
However, fast regulation may also have a detrimental effect on speech perception, known as spectral and temporal smearing.
However, with longer regulation times, the natural contrasts between different speech components are better preserved. Thus, even though fast regulation may improve speech perception in some situations, hearing aid users are probably best served with slow regulation most of the time.
One possible solution is to implement a predominantly slow compression system that temporarily permits faster regulation in specific situations, such as abruptly changing sound environments, where slow gain regulation may not provide sufficient audibility of soft sounds and protection from sudden loud sounds. All hearing aids are tested thoroughly for unwanted artifacts before being released for sale. Some distortion products and delays can be measured, while others cannot be detected via objective measurements. To ensure that the latter are discovered, the sound quality of Widex hearing aids is tested both by means of objective measurements and an internal panel of trained listeners, consisting of both normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners with many years of experience assessing hearing aid sound quality and listening for artifacts.On a final note, it should be pointed out that while most changes of the original signal that may occur in a hearing aid are unintentional and unwanted, there are exceptions where the benefits of the altered signal are judged to outweigh the drawbacks.
The most obvious example is the digital signal processing which performs intentional distortion of the original signal by amplifying signals at certain frequencies to compensate for the hearing loss. This technique is used to provide audibility of high-frequency information for people with severe-to-profound or precipitously sloping high-frequency hearing loss whose cochlear high-frequency region is so severely damaged that it is not possible to restore audibility by means of conventional amplification.
Audibility is achieved by shifting the high-frequency information to a lower frequency region with some residual hearing. Fitting rationales can be designed in an almost endless number of ways, depending on the specific goals you want to achieve for the patient.
Therefore, the hearing aid sound processing must be designed to compensate to the greatest extent possible for these effects.A well-known phenomenon which may lead to reduced speech understanding in hearing aid users is masking.
Masking occurs when a loud sound in one frequency region renders a sound in the same or another frequency region inaudible.
A familiar example from everyday life needing to turn up the volume of your car radio to hear the news because it is being drowned by noise from the engine. This phenomenon of low-frequency noise (car noise in this example) drowning mid- or high-frequency sound (speech in this example) is referred to as upward spread of masking. Masking can also travel downwards in frequency, but this is much less pronounced than when it travels upwards. Moreover, since most noise sources are low in frequency, one focus of most hearing aid manufacturers is to prevent the upward spread of masking by trying to avoid excessive low-frequency gain.Natural and transparent sound qualityApart from providing the necessary amplification to ensure audibility and speech intelligibility, the goal is to offer a fully transparent sound quality.
For some wearers, it will be difficult to get used to air conditioning, traffic outside the house, footsteps, et cetera, after having been deprived of these sounds for a long time. It is our experience that many wearers will get used to the presence of soft sounds and appreciate them in time. Care must be taken not to amplify them too much, though, so they become too dominant.Medium sounds are typically at conversational input levels (60-70 dB SPL). The primary goal for these levels is to make speech intelligible while preserving comfort and naturalness. In other words, they should be amplified to a degree where they are perceived as having the same loudness as they would be by a normal-hearing person.
Again, care must be taken to ensure that loud sounds do not become unpleasantly loud, for instance, by implementing a controlled maximum output level of the hearing aid, and a feature which is capable of handling sudden, loud impulse sounds like a slamming door. Similarly, a study by Hicks & Tharpe (2002) indicated that hearing impaired school-aged children expended a greater listening effort compared to their normal-hearing peers. Thus, for hearing aid users who rely on their hearing aids to lessen the impact of their hearing loss on their everyday lives, it is essential that the hearing aids do not raise the already increased listening effort further.
The attributes included naturalness, fullness, distortion, tube sound, sharpness, and loudness. Anchors and definitions (translated from Danish) used to narrow down each attribute in the test.To ensure impartiality, the test was conducted in a double-blinded study by a third party, the DELTA SenseLab in Denmark, using a panel of trained hearing impaired listeners as assessors.
All three hearing aids were fitted to the moderately sloping N3 hearing loss of the IEC 60118-15 standard (Bisgaard, Vlaming, & Dahlquist, 2010). Recordings were made from each hearing aid in a number of environmental scenarios, including music, traffic, speech in quiet and speech in noise.
The scenarios were selected to be representative for different hearing aid user environments. From this perspective, the fitting of hearing aids with a high sound quality will clearly benefit both hearing care professionals and wearers.
The results suggest that the Widex Sound is perceived to be well-balanced, very natural and full, and characterized by a low degree of distortion compared to the sound quality of two other high-end products from manufacturers considered to be leading when it comes to sound quality.ReferencesBernstein, J.
The National Acoustic Laboratories’ (NAL) new procedure for selecting the gain and frequency response of a hearing aid.
Effects of multi-channel compression time: constants on subjectively perceived sound quality and speech intelligibility. Effect of a single-channel wide dynamic range compression circuit on perception of stop consonant place of articulation.
Quantifying the effect of compression hearing aid release time on speech acoustics and intelligibility.
Poster presented at the 2012 International Hearing Aid Research Conference (IHCON), Lake Tahoe, CA.Moore, B.
Hearing status, need for recovery after work, and psychosocial work characteristics: Results from an internet-based national survey on hearing. Effect of stimulus bandwidth on auditory skills in normal-hearing and hearing impaired children.
The speech intelligibility benefit of a unilateral wireless system for hearing-impaired adults.



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